Today’s meeting professionals are looking for creative ways to help meeting attendees experience enhanced wellness.
From offering platters of tasty greens on the buffet, yoga on the beach, and motivational speakers and alternative medicine gurus talking about healthy living, wellness is a new and increasingly popular menu item for groups in destinations like Central West Florida and beyond.
“Meeting attendees need more than education and networking opportunities; they need a chance to reboot and refresh,” said Jane Scaletta, president of Orlando-based Dolfin Destinations, a global destination management company.
“We are seeing a trend in the types of foods served—even during breaks—and in the seating and the culture of a meeting or program,” she added. “Brain foods are making a mark, featuring edibles that are both colorful and healthy, but with less sugars and empty carbs.”
“Meals are also more sustainable with farm-to-table options," Scaletta continued. "Break options are changing to incorporate yoga, tai chi and even walking sessions.
"Programs are designed to avoid packing too much into an event, so participants can more easily connect with one another. More advanced options include seating arrangement alternatives, like standing desks or lounges rather than rigid seating.”
“The bottom line is that if we listen to our bodies and include wellness into events or programs, we’ll have healthier and more active participants," she concluded.
The Sandpearl Resort on the Gulf of Mexico in Clearwater takes advantage of sunrise and sunset to offer beachside workouts and yoga sessions.
A breathtaking 700-foot stretch of white sand beach and sparkling ocean waters is an idyllic backdrop for early morning or late afternoon fitness activities.
The resort also features the Gulf Lawn Terrace, reserved as a morning meditation station to help hotel guests start each day feeling calm and centered.
Following guided meditation, Sandpearl’s fitness programs challenge guests to seize the opportunity to take a boot camp class or yogalates (a yoga/Pilates hybrid) with ocean waves as the soundtrack, surrounded by glorious, inspired beach views.
Guests can also retreat to a spa that offers over 50 coastal-inspired experiences, all designed to balance the body, mind and spirit.
Sarasota offers groups multiple options for health and wellness, said Ellen Thomas, senior meeting sales manager, Visit Sarasota County.
“The Circus Arts Conservatory, a 15,000-square-foot venue, focuses on unique exercise opportunities; group members learn to perform aerial silks, the tightrope and trapeze, promising very unique events and teambuilding in this venue,” Thomas said.
Thomas encourages groups to consider other Sarasota County areas for group yoga, such as Manasota Key, a 10-minute stroll along Manasota Beach that promises yoga devotees an expansive, crowd-free space to practice. The beach’s sand is a picturesque mix of colorful shells, small black fossil fragments and quartz.
Siesta Key Beach, with its 99.9 percent quartz crystal sand beach with alleged healing qualities, is believed to be one of the Earth’s highest vibratory minerals, explaining why healers choose Siesta Key as a site for meditation events and yoga.
Sarasota’s John Ringling Bridge (named for the Circus titan) is ideal for group bridge runs, walks or bike riding, and many area hotels are wellness focused.
The Westin Sarasota offers a state-of-the-art fitness center, dedicated fitness concierge, roof-top yoga, spa and healthy options throughout; the Hyatt Regency Sarasota features a marina with water sports and a fitness center; and The Resort at Longboat Key provides a full-service spa, golf, tennis and a deep-water marina.
Meditative Wellness Through the Arts at Art Ovation Hotel in Sarasota offers a new twist for meeting groups to develop mindfulness. Here, they can play an instrument or enjoy a mind, body and soul rejuvenation through art-inspired yoga sessions.
The Art Ovation Hotel also offers wellness retreat activities, such as its “Arts+Asana” yoga sessions on the hotel’s rooftop. The hotel's “Check in, Jam Out” program allows guests to call room service and order an instrument for private in-room jam sessions (everything from acoustic guitar, cello and steel guitar to banjo). For guests with little to no musical experience, they can learn the chords at Art Ovation’s weekly ukulele lessons held on the hotel rooftop.
In St. Petersburg, the historic Vinoy Hotel’s salon and day spa is a tranquil, intimate sanctuary nestled in the heart of downtown. The Vinoy Spa specializes in personalized pampering through luxurious and expertly crafted treatments.
Consider a “Honeycomb Pedicure”, with sea salt and a “Farmhouse Fresh Honey Heel Glaze”, or the “Sea Holistic Massage” that uses light exfoliation with marine salt and lavender.
The hotel also offers private group yoga, where guests are guided through breath work, and a 5K City Fun Run that leads groups through St. Petersburg on a course that starts at Vinoy Park across from the hotel and travels along the waterfront to Snell Isle and back.
This course is an energizing way to start the day.
The Don CeSar on St. Petersburg Beach also offers groups health and wellness programs.
“The Pink Palace,” a historic hotel built in 1929, has entered into a partnership with Retreats Unlimited to host wellness and mindfulness weekends, featuring fitness classes, dietary discussions and more. The 11,000-square-foot Spa Oceana offers whirlpool baths and aroma-infused steam rooms in addition to signature treatments that incorporate exotic scents and sounds guaranteed to enliven the senses.
Attendees love the breathtaking Gulf of Mexico views from the spa’s serene rooftop terrace.
The Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, located on the scenic waterfront along the city’s famous Riverwalk, is undergoing a multimillion-dollar, multi-phase transformation by opening a brand-new fitness center with the latest cardio machines, free weights and more.
Newly refreshed guest rooms were unveiled, and the hotel includes a dedicated floor of Stay Well guest rooms with air purification systems to reduce allergens, toxins and other microbes, as well as special circadian lighting features and unscented Vitamin C shower infusers.
Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina guests are encouraged to join in weekly outdoor fitness classes such as Zumba, yoga and boot camp, in nearby Curtis Hixon Park. Guests can also enjoy the great outdoors by walking, running and biking along the Riverwalk.
For the truly ambitious, there’s standup paddleboarding along the river and right outside the hotel with the hotel’s standup paddleboarding partner, SUP Tampa Bay.
Spa Evangeline at the Epicurean Hotel in Tampa offers organic food-derived treatments, such as coffee scrubs, and its Rhythm and Rose program, which invites guests to work out with dance and strength training and then after class, sip a glass of crisp rose as their reward.
Outside of Tampa, the Innisbrook Golf Resort & Spa highlights wellness with its 12,000-square-foot Salamander Spa that offers outdoor group yoga classes on the yoga terrace, fitness classes and spa treatments.
At JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, meeting attendees are pampered as soon as they walk in to register with a mini chair massage, a healthy cocktail like a rosemary margarita and even a wellness basket with spa products in the room.
Central West Florida CVB Contact Information
Visit Sarasota County
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater
Visit Tampa Bay